See also: Perret
Leonce Perret is a actor, Director then a Acteur, Scénariste, producing Réalisateur and of cinematographic Films French born the May 13rd 1880 with Niort (Two-Sevres, France), and deceased the August 14th 1935 with Paris (France).
Leonce Perret begins as actor with the theater, then with the cinema, he becomes then realizer many Court-measurings, and obtains little by little a strong notoriety in the French cinematographic landscape. Often described like an avant-gardist for his manner of carrying out his films, Leonce Perret knew to bring to the French cinema novel methods of framing, use of the light and musical accompaniment.
He is an emblematic figure of the company Gaumont until in 1917. He expatriate then with the the United States where he brings his knowledge and is acquired there at the same time a strong experiment. It is on the American ground that it starts to produce some of its films in particular its famous Lest we forget (let us forget never) in 1918, a work of French propaganda giving to the world the spectacle of heroic and wounded France.
Later of return in France, it realizes in 1923 Kœnigsmark , work enabling him to acquire a certain notoriety in the cinematographic medium. In 1925, its film Mrs Sans-Gêne , adaptation of the play éponyme, is the first Franco-American coproduction. Discoverer of new talents, Leonce Perret makes take part many French and American idols of his time such as Abel Gance, Gloria Swanson, Gaby Morlay, Arletty, Suzanne Grandais, Mae Murray or Huguette Duflos.
Beginnings in the theater worldLeonce Perret is born in 1880 from Eliès Ferdinand Perret and Marie Collinet after his Lucie sister (1870-1963) and his brother Ernest (1873-1949). His/her parents have a workshop of joinery in the street Yver with Niort. As of his childhood, Leonce takes taste for all that touches with art, in particular the Comédie then the Poésie. During his adolescence, Leonce falls seriously sick and must consult specialists in Paris, where there remain a few months time to be neat. It is during this short period lived in the capital that it starts to dream with a life of artist.
From return to Niort, after many discussions with his parents, it obtains their agreement to try his chance. It regains the capital then and rents a small room on the boulevard Saint-Michel, not far from the Jardin of Luxembourg, where it can be plunged in its favorite readings. Its troubles of health return then it goes back from there gradually and, later, on March 21st, 1901, it is exempted military service.
It is registered at the new musical school Schola Cantorum in the district Montparnasse. It appears a good singer and an excellent player of Flûte: it is the beginning of its very prolific career of artist. He likes much to go to see plays during his spare time and feels more and more attracted by the scene. He takes part in small representations in order to learn the trade; he must accept all the proposals which are offered in order to obtain its first seals, often ridiculous. In parallel it takes courses of music then of theater.
In 1899, Leonce is called for first a six months round which make it travel to Europe and even until Russia. He is finally noticed by the playwright Eugene Brieux for a first big role in the Red dress which he plays in spring 1900. Then the chance smiles in June 1900 to him because it obtains its first contract like young first with the Théâtre of the Athenaeum, one of its dreams. In 1902, it carries out a new European round passing by the Italy, the Suisse, the Germany, the Russia, etc, playing of the parts of Dumas wire, of Alfred Capus, Marcel Prévost or Emile Augier. It acquires a strong theatrical experiment during these years. The actor starts to point out himself by his services, especially when it integrates the theater of the Light comedy into at the beginning of 1903, playing in particular the main role of the part Ruy Blas .
In 1905, Leonce signs an new agreement for the National theater of Odéon; its director of scene is then Abel Tarride, then André Antoine. He continues to foam the scenes of Paris, province and sometimes of Europe. However, obtaining only seldom the first role, it encounters large financial problems for this period. It makes a new passage in Russia and is engaged for a few months in a theater of Saint-Pétersbourg in 1909. On the way of the return in France, it stops with Berlin to play there Cyrano of Bergerac : at this point in time Mr. Grassi, director of Gaumont Germany, requests it for a new occupation: the Cinematograph…
Career in the cinema: the actor then the director
Rather disavowed by the medium of the theater, the cinema appears in Leonce Perret a prolongation of his theatrical activity behind the cameras. Is the setting in scene of a part by Leonce considered by Grassi, then that one will put in scene its three first short films at Berlin of which Pourquoi the war? , a film with the pacifist expression in 1909. It then puts in scene its own scenarios, of the short films of 4-5 minutes like the Good Judge or Fan-Fan the small pomegranate .
It returns then to Paris and is made enlist by the house Gaumont under the artistic director of Louis Feuillade. It begins there as actor in good number of films made in the Gaumont studios with 53, rue de la Villette. It evolves/moves very quickly thanks to its German experiment with the setting in scene. It meets Valentine Petit, a Danseuse and Chanteuse working in particular with the Folies Shepherdess which becomes his wife a few years later. Valentine plays in some films of Leonce and the assistance largely in her business.
Gradually, Leonce Perret and the Gaumont troop work with many actors like Suzy Prim, Yvette Andréyor, Suzanne Grandais, etc Leonce plays much in the films which it puts in scene. Fire with the mine is one of its first films to have a relative success. In 1913 the series begins from the " Léonce" , where it is put in scene playing of the dramatic characters, comic even burlesques; it turns forty episodes of this series. It puts in scene the same year the Marriage of midnight , a dramatic comedy in which plays Suzanne Grandais, an actress discovered by Leonce with the Moulin-Rouge which becomes very popular thereafter.
The name of Leonce Perret is always unknown general public, its face starts nevertheless to be very familiar. Indeed, until 1913, the name of the Director and the Acteur S did not appear on the film tapes: it was a practice prohibited by the production companies. It is itself which, one day, imposed on Gaumont and Louis Feuillade the presence of its name like those of the main actors in the credits of film. The other realizers followed this idea as from this day.
Leonce Perret turns more and more of films in province, in the open air, testing novel methods. Moreover, it is tested with the police serial with Iron hand , a film in three episodes. It is this same year that Leonce carries out the Child of Paris , the film which definitively propels it to the row of the best French realizers of the time. It is also for Leonce Perret the end of the year of financial instability. the Child of Paris is taken again and projected several times thereafter. In this film, Leonce shows that at the time the French technique competed the American technique, in particular eminent the David W. Griffith. Moreover, at the time of a reprojection of the Child of Paris to the French Cineclub in 1951, Georges Sadoul declares: " Perret the USA with brilliance of all the resources of the assembly, differentiations of plans, the back-lights, the very beautiful photography of its Specht operator… On a banal scenario which dissociates from the Two orphan ones. the melodrama of Ennery, and by mingling with it some chauvinistic episodes, Leonce Perret knew to lead a flexible and sharp account by employing an extremely refined cinematographic vocabulary: back-lights, closes-up, low-angle shots, movements of apparatuses, and different miles innovations are used by him with a brilliance which contrasts with the traditional examination of Louis Feuillade and a certain primitivism then latent at David W. Griffith… Perret shows that then the French technique exceeded it technical American… ".
Starting from 1914, it carries out several patriotic films and jingoists, like the majority of the scenario writers during the First World War of which the way of the Fatherland . This film is accompanied by music (military) during its projection, an innovative idea.
Leonce Perret is at that time number 2 of the Gaumont behind Louis Feuillade. It is also the time of the apogee for the French cinema whose films are projected in many countries abroad. However, in August 1914, the war bursts and the cinematographic activities are suspended: everyone is mobilized. Leonce is mobilized a time as nursing auxiliary with Niort but cannot fight because of its troubles of health. He takes again his activities at the beginning of 1915 at the request of Leon Gaumont in order to turn some patriotic reels like French, take care! , a short film warning the women remained with the rear-guard to be wary of the possible traitors. Debout deaths is a film taking as a starting point one of the novels of Victor Hugo. He alternates his creations between sentimental works and patriotic works until in 1916. But, little by little, even if Leonce were named artistic Director since 1915 in the place of Louis Feuillade, party with the face, it complains about the lack of means proposed by Gaumont. Leonce Perret aspires to carry out films with larger budget. Moreover, its contract the binder with Gaumont expires at the end of 1916.
American experiment: the film producerIn February 1917, a few weeks before the the United States join the allied forces, Leonce Perret unloads on the American ground. He settles with Richmond in Virginia, area then under development full cinematographic which competes with Hollywood. Leonce signs an advantageous contract with the World Film Corporation , an independent production created by Jules Brulatour and Lewis J. Selznick. Leonce joined this manner a whole colony of French realizers exiled with the Nouveau World curious to know American cinema industry in full expansion. Its first film made to America is entitled The Silent Master , put in scene of a novel of Philips Oppenheim. Then it connects quickly with has Modern Othello according to a news of the French Ernest Mr. Laumann. It is a little later that it is harnessed with the creation of its first large American success: Ballast we forget (never let us forget) in 1918, a work of French propaganda giving to the world the spectacle of heroic and wounded France. This work had an enormous success in France in September 1918 right before the signature of the Armistice. This same year, after several successful films, having acquired a very satisfactory financial position, Leonce creates his own production company: Perret Pictures Inc. , affiliated with Pathé-Exchange for the distribution. It produced there and carries out a series of films of which the 13th chair according to a part Bayard Veiller, then Twin Pawns , film where Mae Murray appears, new Hollywood glory of the time. In 1920, The Face lift Shadows (the pressure of last) watch the party taken of Leonce Perret against the Bolchevism because this film is a strong critic of the new capacity in Russia. It carries out then several successful films until in 1921, where the US economy undergoes a recession, and the cinema is not saved. Leonce starts to think of his return in France…
Return in France: international recognition
At the end of the summer 1921, Leonce Perret definitively gives up continuing his work on the American ground and will try to reconquer the French studios. Having profited from research and all progress of the American cinema, he intends well to adapt them in France. On its return in France, it belongs to the large reformers as for the realization of a film. It carries out and produces as of September its first film: the Rider . It is Pathé-Consortium-Cinema which deals with the distribution.
It then starts to consider the adaptation of Kœnigsmark , the novel of Pierre Benoit. New work leaves in March 1924 in the French cinemas. Kœnigsmark , whose Huguette Duflos is the main actor, conquers little by little all the film enthusiasts and remains a major work of the cinema of the Twenties (this film is restored besides in 2002 by the French Cinémathèque directed by Claudine Kaufmann).
In 1925 leaves first Franco-American film Mrs Sans-Gêne , where in particular the star American Gloria Swanson plays. This film, recalling the revolution against Louis XVI in 1792, generates historical receipts in France as in America. Today, Mrs Sans-Gêne is invisible on our screens for the simple reason that no cineclub, all over the world, could safeguard a copy of this film.
It is, at that time, one of the references of the French cinema, it regularly receives the praises of the film critics for each one of its films. In 1926, Leonce turns the Nude woman according to the work of Henry Bataille, then in 1927 Morgane the siren according to a novel of Charles Goffic. At the end of March 1927, a new business of production and distribution is born in the French cinematographic landscape: the Free-Film. Perret is named artistic director and member of the board of directors of this company operating in the studios Rex Ingram of Nice. The objective that this new company is fixed is to make triumph the national production over the world screens. Sit at the sides of Perret: the director of the production Edgard Costil, the realizer Camille de Morlhon and several directors pioneers like Raymond Bernard, Jean Durand, Leon Mathot, etc
Morgane the siren is the first film of Perret distributed by Free-Film, which meets a great success in France, in England like with the Canada, which confirms the international ambitions of this young company. The same year sees the day of first French film entirely colors according to the American technique Technicolor. In Spring of love , Perret employs the services of Louise Lagrange and American Hope Hampton. Leonce produces then his the last two silent films: the Dancer Orchis (with American Ricardo Cortez like Xenia Desni, Marcya Capri) and the Possession (with Italian Francesca Bertini), a new adaptation of Henry Battles.
Leonce Perret marked the cinema of the Twenties of his print. Often qualified of “magician of the image” by his pars, it definitively returns in the Pantheon of the Silent film.
End of a career: premises of the talking filmsConvinced of the future of the talking films, Leonce Perret realizes in 1929 When we were two , an adaptation of the famous novel of Huguette Garnier. Its first talking film however has a mitigated success compared with other competitor films of the same time. Generally, the company Free-Film has many difficulties in its transition towards the talking films. Besides Leonce Perret leaves it after When we were two . Not renonçant however with the cinema, Leonce collaborates in 1930 with Adolphe Osso, creator of the new business of the Osso films to turn Arthur (with Boucot), its first film really in his direct . He connects then in 1931 with After the love (with Gaby Morlay) adapted of a part of Pierre Wolf and Henri Duvernois. This film has a particular success in Belgium. Comes then in 1932 Beauty spots then Enlevez me , film which makes discover the any young person Arletty, as well as already tried out Roger Tréville.
The following year, Leonce Perret, who works from now on with the house Pathé-Nathan, points out the queen of the cinema and of the theater Gaby Morlay and its former colleague André Luguet in order to make his new film It was once , according to the part of Francis de Croisset. This film gains the French film price “better of the year” decreed by the weekly magazine of the film enthusiasts For You . Then, in 1933, Leonce adapt to the cinema the novel of Alphonse Daudet Sapho , which he knows well since he had already played it whereas he was actor. Mary Marquet is the main actor of this new adaptation. In 1934, Leonce Perret tries a new experiment with the Comédie-Française, a kind of theater-documentary on the work of Molière which has a mitigated success but which makes it possible artists like Sacha Guitry to be inspired some to carry out other works in this field thereafter.
Whereas Leonce Perret starts a new project, a new version of Kœnisgmark , speaking and bilingual (Franco-English), it falls ill and must be hospitalized with the private clinic Saint Jean of God located in the 7th district of Paris. It there dies on August 12th, 1935 and is buried with Niort.
It finally carried out seven talking films. Leonce Perret is regarded as an autodidact having climbed one by one the levels of the success, asserting a certain independence, a freedom of creation and several innovations as well as a faculty to discover new talents.
However Leonce Perret is surprisingly forgotten by the film enthusiasts of the following generations, the historians of the cinema granting only very little place to him in their studies. 2003 should be waited until to discover the first study - partial - entitled Leonce Perret , published by the French Association of research on the history of the cinema in collaboration with the cineclub of Bologna under the direction of Bernard Bastide and Jean A. Gili. Some time afterwards, in November 2004 during a fortnight, tens of films of Leonce Perret are projected with the Cineclub of Paris, with iniciative of the team of Bernard Bastide.
Impatience artistic, economic, scientific and social of the cinema is so large that its development does not have limits. Also, one of our first national industries should it be that of film. But to replace French film in the forefront, which it should never have lost, and to ensure its expansion on the worldwide market, is needed that this film, national by its production, is international by its dramatic situation, its invoice, its interpretation. All the striking facts of our history, the life of our great men and women famous, can be used for the realization of international film. Our foreign competitors are not unaware of it, because to carry out their last international films, they took all of them their elements in the French history, such as she was told by our most famous novelists and our playwrights…
The cinema conquered established among in the whole world, and took a universal character which makes of it an object of free trade artistic and.
The cinema must in Leonce Perret of the plastic discoveries and research without price.
Catalog of filmsA complete catalog of films of Leonce Perret is practically impossible because he wrote, played, realized or produces more than 400 films of which approximately the thirds are still available at present. The copies are mainly with the Gaumont Cineclub, with the French Cinémathèque, the Files of Film of the National center of cinematography or in some European cineclubs like Nederlands Filmmuseum of Amsterdam.
1918 realized in the United States
1919 realized in the United States
1920 realized in the United States
1921 carried out in the United States
Scenario writerLeonce Perret writes the scenarios of a great majority of his films. Only certain films going back to before 1913, i.e. its period of training, were not written by Leonce Perret. The majority are written then by Louis Feuillade, his artistic director of this time, some scenarios are also written during this period by Abel Gance, Etienne Arnaud and Marcel Lévesque, his colleagues of the company Gaumont. It is in a progressive way, as from 1911, that Leonce Perret obtained the confidence of the house Gaumont to put in scene his own scenarios.
Later, as from 1917, he writes many scenarios according to novels, like Folie of Love (1917), the thirteenth chair (1919) or Koenigsmark (1923). He writes also certain scenarios in collaborations with other scenario writers like Koenigsmark writes with Rene Champigny or Mrs Sans-Gêne with American Forrest Halsey.
In 1928, the Dancer Orchis is the fruit of a scenario of Jean-Joseph Renaud. It is one of rare films of post-war period when Leonce Perret did not intervene in the writing of the scenario.
ProducerLeonce Perret produced many of his films as from his American period, i.e. as from 1917, by melting his production company Perret Picture Inc . Fayette, we like and The unknown coils in 1918 like Twin Pawns or A.B.C off coils into 1919 are certain films produced by Leonce Perret with the the United States.
Then at the time of its return in France, it will on the occasion to produce several films with the company Free-Film ( Morgane the Siren and Printemps of Love in 1927, the Dancer Orchis , Poliche and the Possession in 1928, When we were two in 1930, etc).
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